Chesapeake PSR

Chesapeake PSR sues EPA on coal waste cleanup rollback

Climate Change and Energy, CoalTimothy WhitehouseComment

A coalition of environmental and public health advocates, including Chesapeake PSR, filed suit yesterday to challenge a Trump administration effort to undermine critical protections for cleaning up toxic water pollution from coal power plant waste. In 2013, coal-fired power plants discharged nine times more pollutants than the next nine most-polluting industries combined.

The federal lawsuit seeks to invalidate a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) order that indefinitely puts on hold 2015 rules to control the amount of arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead and other pollutants discharged from coal power plants into our public waters. By indefinitely putting on hold these protections, the Trump administration is allowing power plants to continue discharging toxics without any specific limits, using standards set in 1982. 

Some of the coal-fired power plants in the Chesapeake area affected by the Trump administration order include the Dickerson plant in upper Montgomery County, Maryland, the Morgantown plant in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, and Clover Station plant in Halifax County, Virginia. The Dickerson and Morgantown plants discharge into the Potomac River. The Clover Station plant discharges into the Staunton River.

In a press release on the lawsuit, Tim Whitehouse, executive director of Chesapeake PSR, said, “The risks to human health from power plants being allowed to spew unlimited amounts of mercury, selenium, arsenic and other toxics into our nation’s water are profound. Exposure can lead to problems including cancer and neurotoxicity, and the EPA’s decision not to curb the release of these pollutants as quickly as possible is unjustifiable and dangerous.”

The Trump administration is rapidly moving to dismantle basic environmental and health provisions,” said Gwen DuBois, MD, MPH, Chesapeake PSR president. “Our job is to stand up for the rule of law, to advocate for regulatory decisions based on sound science and to push for complete transparency in government decision-making. That is why we joined this lawsuit.”

Earthjustice filed the lawsuit in the District of Columbia’s federal district court on behalf of Sierra Club, Waterkeeper Alliance and Clean Water Action. Also joining the suit are the Environmental Integrity Project, PennEnvironment, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Chesapeake PSR and Prairie Rivers Network, represented by the Environmental Integrity Project.

If you would like more information on this lawsuit, please contact Tim Whitehouse at (240) 246-4492 or twhitehouse@psr.org.

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